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The Road Back - Paradise's Recovery After the Camp Fire

May contain: fire, bonfire, and flame

This past November marked three years since the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise. It was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history as, in a matter of hours, 85 lives were lost and 95% of the Town’s buildings had burned down. But the story of Paradise did not end that day. The survivors of the Camp Fire have embraced the challenge of rebuilding their Town and not only restoring their mountain-ridge community, but making it the best it can be.

Rebuilding with Resilience

Earlier this month, the rebuilding efforts in Paradise hit a significant milestone, surpassing over 2,000 permit applications for single-family homes and over 390 permit applications for multi-family homes. Over 1300 homes have been rebuilt to date with hundreds more slated for construction in the near future. With the population of Paradise currently less than a quarter of its pre-fire size, every new build represents a new beginning. Additionally, there are $130+ Million infrastructure projects in progress including road improvements, sewer projects, Early Warning System development, and undergrounding of utilities. Paradise also has school site developments in the works and millions of grants to aid new home builds, Paradise is the fastest growing town in California.

The Role of Recreation

The Paradise Recreation & Park District's main office is situated in the middle of town, right off the main thoroughfare, adjacent to the Veterans' Hall and Paradise Park. In that way and many more, it is -- quite literally -- the center of the community. While the fire destroyed several other outlying District offices, its main office in the Terry Ashe Recreation Center survived the blaze. 

For the last three years, PRPD has been confronted with the question of how to best serve a community on the mend. And the answer for PRPD has been a simple one -- whatever the community needs. In addition to year round activities and events like the Chili Cookoff, Pinewood Derby, Fishing Derby, and Ice Skating, they have expanded their services to include day care and preschool in order to accommodate their residents' childcare needs. The District has also now assumed operations of the nearby Paradise Lake, a 204 acre lake surrounded by 84 acres of outdoor recreation space. With paddling, fishing, hiking, biking, and more, PRPD's recreation offerings have continued to develop and the community has thrived.

Additionally, PRPD has considered its role in public safety and has taken the novel approach to disaster planning by embarking on an ambitious plan for park development. The forward-thinking plan is to purchase approximately 1000 acres of private property ringing the Town in an effort to create a strategic buffer of park space to serve as natural fire breaks and help protect the community from wildfire threats. To date, PRPD has acquired 300 acres of land with 500 more in process. Their plan was recently profiled in the New York Times in an article you can read by navigating to https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/31/business/paradise-camp-fire-rebuild.html.

To read more on the Rebuild in Paradise, check out the community website: https://makeitparadise.org/

If you're interested in serving as a sponsor for their Annual Paradise on Ice - Winter Wonderland, check out the PRPD website: https://www.paradiseprpd.com/paradise-on-ice-sponsorship-opportunities

By Matthew Duarte

Executive Director, CARPD & CAPRI

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